About Us

Mile Hill Melodrama is an amateur community theatre troupe based in South Gillies, Ontario. Founded in 1991, we have benefited over the years from the talents of over 100 members. Mile Hill welcomes anyone and everyone interested in exploring their theatrical side, whether that be on the stage or behind it. We are always looking for dedicated volunteers, particularly for all the slightly less glamorous, but just as rewarding, behind-the-scenes work.

"From the moment the first scene begins, you know you are in the presence of talent, determination and just plain fun. The actors on stage are family, in every sense of the word." - Jacqueline Nelson, The Walleye

The idea for a rural community theatre was born in 1990 on a hot summer day at Oliver Lake. Our founding members decided to put on a play at the Gillies Community Centre simply to pass the winter months and have a little fun. In April 1991, we staged a single performance of Terror Walks Tonight. According to one member, "we did not expect to be doing this in front of an audience of more than our family and friends. When we saw the  parking lot filling up we were shocked." The hall was packed. Five weeks later we put on another performance with square dancing, the Kam Valley Fiddlers and a sing-along.

In the beginning, our lighting was a series of floodlights mounted to the floor of our humble stage and a homemade plywood lighting board fitted with a series of household dimmer switches. To make up for the harsh glare, we plastered our faces with heavy stage makeup. Crew members (often our cast members' kids) foleyed sound effects live from backstage during each performance. For sound effects too difficult to recreate backstage, we brought in a portable cassette player.

We were able to do what we did by enlisting our friends and family, making the best with what we had, and above all, keeping the atmosphere fun.

These days, we have a much more professional set-up and no longer routinely send our male members out in ruby red lipstick and blacker than black mascara. We have learned to transform our little stage to accommodate everything from an elaborate 19th century parlour to a set requiring three completely separate, simultaneous locations. In the words of our long-time set builder Pat Poulin: "I know it is going to be a great play when the director asks if I can (on an 18 foot stage) put in seven doors, a curving staircase, and a fireplace/ bookcase that the actors can disappear behind, or make a wagon tumble down a set of stairs and collapse the ceiling."

Although our professional standards have changed, the spirit of how we originally started remains the same. In our view, the more fun we have, the more fun our audience has, and while it's important to keep a professional attitude, no good comes from taking oneself too seriously! 

Gillies Young Actors

The Gillies Young Actors sprouted from MHM in 2001 to allow the local youth (many of whom were our cast members' kids) a chance to perform. They held theatre games and improv, and wrote and performed their own skits. Lucky for us, it provided a fertile garden of young actors to pick from when roles required a bit more youth. The Young Actors programme ran until 2005.

Partners and Sponsors

In addition to our volunteer members and amazing audiences, we have received support from a number of businesses and organizations. Their generosity has enabled us to continually improve our services and contribute to our community. Over the years, our partners and sponsors have included:

  • Gillies Community Centre
  • Rose Valley Lodge & Restaurant
  • Thunder Bay Testing & Engineering
  • Trillium Foundation
  • Thunder Bay Co-operative
  • Coastal Steel Construction Ltd.
  • Merse Water Systems